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Parikshit Sahni turns producer

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By: Upala KBR, Mid-Day

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Balraj Sahni's son and actor, Parikshit Sahni, is back after a break of one and a half years. He was last seen in the TV serials, Ajnabee, Heena and Gul Gulshan Gulfam.

Today he's acting in Eklavya, Munnabhai Meets Mahatma, Choodiyan and Umrao Jaan. Here, he talks about his dosti with Bachchans, being named by Tagore and his new ventures. Read on:

Why did you take a break?
I went on a sabbatical, because I wanted to take some time off and reinvent myself. I was repeating myself in some bad films, doing the same kind of roles and getting stale.

There is more to me than just going to studios and coming back. I like to be creative. I have written in many newspapers and magazines including Mid-Day. I had written an article on Mr Harivansh Rai Bachchan after his death (January 18) and on reading that, Amitabh wrote a very long letter to me appreciating the effort.

You are close to Amitabh?
Yes, we are very close. In fact Amitabh told me to do something in my dad's memory, 'tu bhi kuch kar' he told me. Today I have the banner, Balraj Sahni Productions, which is producing the TV serial, Lal Kothi on DD1. Our dads knew each other very well. My dad admired the senior Bachchan a lot - said he was a guru in writing.

Mr Harivansh Rai Bachchan would read out from his books to us every night after dinner. In fact, he told Amitabh to ask my dad (Balraj Sahni) for advice, when he wanted to join films as my dad was in the acting profession.

What are you doing now?
I am acting in Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Eklavya as Vidya Balan's father, JP Dutta's Umrao Jaan as Ash's father, Sukhwant Dhadda's Choodiyan where I play a guy in a wheelchair and a small but significant role in Raju Hirani's Munnabhai Meets Mahatma. I also have plans to start the Balraj Sahni Manch, a theatre group, in honour of my father, as he came from theatre.

My first play will be called Rani written by me and directed by Pradeep Gupta.

Is it based on you own life?
No, it's the story based on the life of a dear friend of mine called Rani.

Any financial problems?
No, by the grace of God, I haven't. There have been times, when I haven't got any work at all and felt very upset, but I am like my dad, who believed in simple living and high thinking. There was never a financial crunch where my family or I had to starve.

It's heard that Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore named you.
That's true. My dad came from a literary background and taught English Literature at Shantiniketan. My mom who was doing her Bachelor's degree there, was expecting me then, and was about to give her exams.

Tagore told her that I should be called Parikshit as she was giving pariksha, while I was still in her womb.

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